"I Used to Love Her" - Iraq & The U.S. Part I: Oil, a Flirtatious Affair, and the Nasty Breakup
It's hard to tell today if we're in the 1990s or 2002. With talk of war in the Persian Gulf, a Bush in the White House, UN resolutions, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, it's almost as if history is repeating itself. Stranger still is the road that had led us down this path. Who would have thought the "sex-for-oil" relationships forged decades ago between the Iraq and the US would leave them all lamenting like Common did of HipHop, "I used to lover her!" Then again, history has an odd way of having interconnecting pieces that somehow fall into place --- like some kind of temporal chaos theory. The mathematical equation in question begins about 50 years ago with a little known company called the AIOC.
In the early 20th century, Europeans and the US only argued over oil in the Middle East amongst themselves. In the 1920s, the US and Britain were bumping heads over who would develop the region's vast reserves. In 1928, Standard Oil of New Jersey and Mobil signed the "Red Line Agreement" with British and French oil interests. This document pledged that the three nations would not develop Middle Eastern oil without the participation of the others. And throughout colonialism, this little game worked. Those who lived in the Middle East had little say in the matter. Then came a little known Austrian, his ideas of a Master Race and the 2nd war to end all wars.
With the end of WWII, most of the colonized non-western world was of the firm opinion that Europeans were…well…to put it bluntly…crazy. Tens of millions of lives lost in two global conflicts, the bloodiest ever seen in human history, pretty much brought an end to colonization. From "Indo-China" to Africa to the Middle East to India, everyone served Europeans notice that it was time to git and be gone---don't let the door hit ya' where the good Lord split ya'. Even Japan, who thought perhaps mimicry could save it until the twin disasters of Fat Man and Little Boy, got out the game. Direct control over oil, which had emerged as a basic necessity for the industrialized world, was no longer possible. Europeans now had to bargain with regions they once owned---like slave masters in the post Antebellum South having to switch over to wage labor come emancipation. It was a precarious time and there was a lot of western fear over the fate of their precious, slick, black commodity.
So when the Mossadeq government of Iran, a former English colony, nationalized the British owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (the afore-mentioned AIOC) there was panic and bedlam. On the surface the reasons given for the fear was that this was a step towards communism. At the heart of the matter however was control over oil. So in 1953 when the US through the auspices of the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected Mossadeq government it had nothing to do with communism, repressive regimes or securing freedom. But it had everything to do with oil-and who controls it. Unfortunately for the US however, the best laid plans of both rodents and conniving big-brained chimps don't always work out.
The US helped install the traditional Shah as ruler of Iran. And for about twenty years he seemed like an all right guy. He opened up his country and sent students abroad. He took land from the rich and gave to the poor. A middle class began to form. He suppressed militant extremists and was very loyal to the US. But there was an ugly underbelly, one that tortured its citizens by use of a secret police---the infamous SAVAK. Bungled western-styled reforms caused poverty, growing slums and a capitalist styled gap began to appear. The US seemed to care little about such things. As long as the oil flowed steadily like the spice melange, anything was allowable on Arakis. By the 1970s however the Fremen were restless. And anti-western, anti-American and anti-Shah politics reached a fever pitch.
In January of 1979, the Shah of Iran was forced to flee his country under an Islamic revolution led by a once exiled extremist, the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Shah's long time ally, the US, condemned the revolution and soon found its self embroiled in a complicated hostage situation that would last for 444 days. Relations with the Middle East were already strained from American support and arming of its biggest welfare client, Israel. The US watched aghast as Iran began funneling a fundamentalist brand of Islam across the region, calling the US the "Great Satan" and castigating the West as immoral imperialists.
Now it wasn't that the US had anything against Islamic fundamentalism: perish the thought. It was a great tool after all for fermenting unrest in some of the Islamic Republics of the "Evil Empire" (USSR). And it would prove highly indispensable in its ability to whip Mujahdeen fighters into frenzy against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. US President Ronald Reagan compared these anti-Communist Islamic fundamentalists to Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and em', calling them "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers." Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hailed them as "freedom fighters." Today the descendants of these Afghan based Mujahdeen are called the "Taliban" and "Al-Queda"---direct and indirect remnants of the Islamic fundamentalists once cheered on, trained, backed and militarily supplied by the US and other western powers against the Soviet Union. As 9-11 and a hole in the NY skyline proved, that love affair didn't end too amicably.
So let’s understand the US issues with Iran’s revolution had nothing to do with its treatment of women, its undemocratic regime or Islamic radicalism---not in of itself. After all, the US (the great protectors of democracy that we are) had helped overthrow the last democratically elected official in Iran. Capitalism trumps democracy every time. No, the problems with Iran instead had just about everything to do with A-Bubblin’ Crude, Oil that is, Texas-Tea, Black Gold---that stuff that made ol’ Jed a millionaire. The US equation was simple: Islamic Fundamentalism that harasses the Commies—GOOD; Islamic Fundamentalism that messes with Uncle Sam’s oil---BAD!
The US had learned just that very decade that its dependency on this natural resource---like a 3rd Stage Guild Navigator on orange spice---could bring it to its knees. Well, let me rephrase. Foreign oil dependence couldn’t really bring the US to its knees, as it had its own large oil resources and could always find someone else to help out during tough times. But such dependence could make things difficult for the average consumer at the pump, thus putting pressure on elected officials and thus leading to policy disputes in Congress that would eventually reach the White House. This was evidenced in the 1973 Oil Embargo and resultant crisis as part of Arab & Mid East retaliation for support of Israel. When the new fundamentalist Iranian government shut off its oil in 1979 gas prices shot up again and wouldn’t stabilize until 1981. The US realized that even it’s created 8001b gorilla, Israel, would not be enough to stem the tide of Islamic fundamentalism that could hurt oil interests. So with Iran lost, it went looking for new allies. And it found one that had been waiting in the rafters for his moment of glory---Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Hussein had come to power in 1979, the end result of a successful 1968 coup by his Baath Party. The Baath party incidentally was supported in its non-democratic coup by the US, who inwardly watched with glee as it exterminated communists---even going as far as to supplying names---but outwardly broke off diplomatic relations. A series of rough incidents occurred between Iraq and the US from 1968 to 1979, but nothing monumental. And after the Iranian Revolution, many past quarrels were swept under the rug---or at least to the back of the room, particularly any former US support for Kurdish rebels. Non-fundamentalist and ambitious, Hussein’s Iraqi regime became a perfect leveling chip against Islamic radicalism and the threat it could have to US oil interests. This dictator cared little about jihad or anti-western slogans; he just wanted power. For the America, it was not exactly a case of “love at first sight” but rather one of “just about anyone will do for the job.” There was no real trust of Saddam Hussein by the US. Yet anything against Iran was considered a plus.
In 1980 Hussein decided to flex his muscles and invade Iran to hunt Kurdish rebels. Whether or not this was at the behest of the US is still a much debatable question. But once he had done so, the Iraqi leader got a cozy little corner at the edge of America’s bed. The US State Department quickly took Iraq off the list of nations that sponsored terrorism (the 1980s ‘Axis of Evil’). When the UN Security Council sought a resolution condemning Iraq, the US strongly opposed. For years the US poured weapons and money to Hussein, helping build up Iraq (who gladly played the part of a lackey) as a bulwark against Iran and radical Islamic fundamentalism. The US provided key intelligence information to Iraq and even military advise. In 1984, the two nations even formally restored diplomatic relations. That very year, when Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, the US outwardly condemned it but did nothing---as most were always well aware that Iraq had such an arsenal and would use it.
In fact from the mid to late 80s, the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) sent Iraq numerous pathogens that would be used in biological warfare programs. In 1986 the ATCC sent anthrax and Clostridium botulinum strains to Baghdad. In 1988 the CDC sent samples of botulinum toxin and botulinum toxiod to Iraq. Today the US claims “naivete,” stating they thought the samples were going to be used to make a vaccine against botulinum poisoning. However the CDC sent the samples directly to Iraq's al-Muthanna complex, a place the US knew was a center for Hussein's chemical and biological weapons program. Certainly US Intelligence wasn’t so blind that they “innocently” and *repeatedly* sent bacteria samples in 1985, 1987 and again in 1988 to Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission, which they were well aware was trying to adapt warheads with dangerous bio-weapons.
Of course who was on whose side wasn’t so cut and dry. While the US was pouring weapons into Iraq, it was also clandestinely supplying weapons to Iran (the infamous Contra affair) as well as information about Communist threats. Its chief ally in the region, Israel, was also supplying Iran with weapons. Meanwhile the Soviet Union, no fan of Islamic fundamentalism, provided Iraq with much of its military hardware. And France provided much of the technology for Iraq’s weaponry. The goal seemed to be to keep both sides fighting. But of the two threats, it was Iran who was always seen by the US as the greatest to oil resources. So Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was definitely the one to woo and court.
Probably nothing illustrates the flirtatious love affair between Iraq and the US in the 1980s, than the incident with the USS Stark in 1987. By that time it was well understood by most that Saddam Hussein had American backing as long as he kept Iran from interfering with oil interests. The US placed itself in the Persian Gulf and regularly escorted Kuwaiti tankers from what they claimed was Iranian aggression. On May 17th, 1987, an Iraqi fighter launched an Exocet missile, striking the USS Stark, killing 37 U.S. sailors and causing extensive damage to the U.S. Navy frigate. Did the US retaliate against Iraq? No. Were there calls for Saddam Hussein’s head? Nope. Iraq claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. Hussein apologized and the US shrugged it off. In fact then President Reagan consoled the families of the USS Stark by saying it was Iran who was ultimately to blame---even if it was an Iraqi missile.
To show the differential treatment, one year later a US merchant ship the Roberts wandered into a “claimed” Iranian minefield. The boat was saved and no one was killed. Did the US take the same stance as with its military vessel the USS Stark? No, their reaction was quite the opposite. The US flew into a rage, retaliating against Iran for two days straight. US forces destroyed Iranian oil platforms and gunboats, effectively decimating a significant portion of the Iranian navy. Iraq and the US were hot n’ heavy.
Then in 1988, things changed. The Iran-Iraq war was becoming wearisome to not only the two combatants but also much of the world. Under pressure and due to a drying up of weapons resources, Iran and Iraq ended the conflict that had claimed up to a million lives. Nothing had been solved. No new gains of importance had been made. But the war did leave Iraq the undisputed military power in the region, next to Israel of course. The Iraqi military machine then numbered over a million men. They held an extensive arsenal, including extended range Scud missiles and a large air force. This left several old players in the Iraq-Iran war in a troubling position.
A strong Iraq was the last thing Israel wanted nearby. The mostly Jewish state still held military superiority, but it didn’t want any of its neighbors even attempting to catch up. Kuwait, who had been fearful of an Iranian invasion, now found itself wary of its former indirect ally Iraq. And the US realized that they had helped to create a protégé they had no control over. Though outwardly there was talk of keeping Iraq as an ally, there was also the growing concern that some balance of power had to be restored.
In this love affair, America was about to call it quits.
To be Continued ...
MORPHEUS- Exposin Fake Shyt
[Released: October 2002]
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